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June 28, 2005

Easy Roll-Brim Knit Hat Recipe

Right. Clearly I am not the only hat addict out there who has had a run-in with Big Hat, Mushroom Hat, Teeny Hat and Bad Lumpy Lopsided Hat. I got a lot of email asking for the pattern to make my roll-brim hat that (finally!) fits. Here you go!

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I am a super-beginner knitter. Also, I hate The Math. But man, I love to make hats. Love you, hats! Perhaps if I had read a beginner hat tutorial, I wouldn't have frogged all my hats forty-seven times to get them right. (Well, I probably would have. So what. Moving on.)

Anyway, in the spirit of Me Being A Cautionary Tale, here is a pattern for a peaceful EASY feelin' roll-brim hat.

This hat is a combination of multiple patterns. I started with a free online pattern from Needle Beetle (pattern here) but I was scared off by starting with double-pointed needles. So I worked off a pattern from Teen Knitting Club, but my yarn and gauge were different, and I had a lot more decreasing, so then I got an impromptu Knitted Hat Math Lesson from Michelle of Fickleknitter, and Laura of JenLa, who explained decreases to me in plain English. Thanks, Michelle! Thanks, La!

The best part? Once you get The Formula, you can make hats all the time with ANY yarn and NO PATTERN. This is my dream come true. Now if the naked-rich-man-who-does-dishes dream would come true, I could die happy.


I am using:
1 skein Crystal Palace Iceland wool in orange
1 skein Crystal Palace Iceland wool in pink for a stripe
Size 11 circular needles, 16" long
Size 11 double-pointed needles (dpns) SCARY!!!
Robert Mondavi Shiraz from Ralph's
NOTE: My gauge swatch gave me about 3 1/2 stitches per inch.

Goal: Make a hat from any yarn without a pattern.

Easy Roll-Brim Hat

Start with a formula (WARNING!!! This is MATH!!) to get your cast on going:

1. Measure the circumference of your head
2. Swatch your yarn
3. Measure swatch to find stitches per inch
4. Multiply stitches per inch by head measurement

My gauge = 3.5 stitches/inch
Shannon's head = 21 inches
Ergo, 3.5 x 21 = 73.5

NOTE: I went with 72 as my amount of cast on stitches instead of 73 or 74. This was because 72 is a number I know how to divide easily (for the decreases) and also, I'm tired of making gigantorhats.

5. Cast on stitches from The Formula. I am using 72 stitches (on circular needles).

6. Place a stitch marker on your needle at the end of the last cast-on stitch. I use the heart-shaped ring my parents got me when I was 15.

The first time I knitted "in the round," I couldn't visualize how on earth the stitch marker worked. Was it knitted into the hat? How do you get it out of the stitches? Yes, I am a dumbass.

But the stitch marker just gets scooted from one needle to the other as you knit around -- you've completed a row when you're back at your marker. Then you scoot it again, from one needle to the other. Use a ring, a piece of string, a rubber band, whatever you want as a stitch marker.

(!!!) This is where they always say MAKE SURE your stitches are not twisted!! That means the knotty-looking part of the stitches are hanging downward and nothing is twisty on your needles.

7. Join the stitches together. Hold the needle with your last cast-on stitch (stitch # 72, for me) in the right hand. Hold the needle with the very first cast-on stitch in the left hand. Knit into that first cast-on stitch, and pull the yarn snug so there's no gap. This forms a circle. Let the circle be unbroken! By and by Lord, by and by!

Note to the OCD-Type-A Knitters: My join always looks sloppy. Hopefully I'll get better at this as time goes by, but look, this is a roll-brim hat. No one will ever see it. MOVE ON.

8. Oh. Hah hah. Here's a tip. Hold your needles toward you. The plastic part (the plastic tubing that makes them "circular") should be sticking out AWAY from you.

Because, me? Cautionary Tale Girl? I found out that if you hold the plastic in front, you will be knitting the whole project inside out. Yup. I have no idea how this works either. Magic! Gnomes! I do not know. And even though I REALIZE this is a problem for me, knitting inside-out, I still accidentally do it. Whoops! It's no biggy. Just turn it right-side once you have a few rows. Who cares, it's just yarn! It loves you!

9. Is this the longest pattern you have ever read or what?

10. Knit every row until you have about 6-7 inches of knitting, depending on how much roll you want in the brim.

Lay your hat on a table, smooth down the rolling brim and measure from the cast-on edge up to your most recent stitch. Actually, just try it on. It will make sense.


STRIPE STUFF: At some point in the 5- or 6-inch portion, you can switch yarns and make a stripe. Just start knitting with another color at the beginning of a row and knit until you got a big fat stripe. Or skinny stripe. Or whatever floats your stripe boat.

11. Now, you're gonna start decreasing. Also, you may want to have some wine or beer handy since the double-pointed needles are coming. I'm just saying, is all.

12. Begin Decreasing.

Dear Aunt Purl: HUH??? Decreasing? How? When? Why?

Dear Decrease Scaredy: I know. There is Math.

Decreasing is pretty simple. You just knit a certain number of stitches, la la la knitting normal, then knit two stitches together, and repeat.

To figure out how and when to decrease, you have to do The Evil Math! But it's easy. Just find a small-ish numer that divides easily into your cast on stitches number.

Me: I cast on 72 stitches
72 is divisible by 12
Now: Math.

Here is the scary genius part of the knitting. YOU DO NOT EVEN REALLY HAVE TO KNOW MATH. Pretend the stitches are shoes. You know all the shoes you cast on (72) are easily divided into groups of 12.

Then, you want to get rid of one pair of shoes by knitting two shoes together. But you're wondering WHICH TWO SHOES you knit together, right?

Subtract 2(shoes) from 12(shoes).

12 - 2 = 10

VOILA!!! You knit ten stitches, then knit two together. Continue all the way on the round (knitting 10 and then K2TOG), and you're decreasing!!! No stitches get left out in the cold. All the shoes have mates!

(I have no idea either! But it works! I swear!)

For this hat, however, I made a quick decrease because I MADE THE BODY OF THE HAT ALMOST 8 INCHES LONG. Whoops! So, 72 is also divisible by 9!

Ergo, I have 9 (stitches/shoes) - 2 (stitches/shoes) = 7. So I knit 7 stitches, then knit 2 together, knit 7, K2TOG and so on. Perfecto. Anything is better if you equate it with shoes.

13. Knit the next round of decreases. So, if you started out by knitting 10, knit 2 together ... then you now knit 9, knit 2 together.

14. And so on. If the previous row was knit 9, knit 2 together ... now you decrease by knitting 8, then knit 2 together.

15. This pattern, the SIMPLE roll-brim hat? We're on step 15 already. HAH HAH.

16. Here they come. The DPNS ofD -- double pointed needles of death.

Deep breath. Sigh with the weight of the world. Begin switching to three double-pointed needles.

Me? I'm a big fat weenie and not a super-advanced knitter (yet!) so here's how I first made the transition from circs to double-pointed needles (dpns). My first few times with the DPNS, I slipped the stitches off my circs and onto my double-points without knitting them, evenly distributing stitches over the three dpns.

It's just a transition step. That way I didn't have to combine decreasing and counting with knitting onto the dpns and cussing and sipping wine and trying to get a cat off my lap all at the same time. It may take a few minutes more in the long run, but at this point we're on Step # 16 and what is a few more minutes? Really now?

OR, alternately: You can knit the stutches off your circulars with your double-points. This is what I do now, but it took me six hats and much wine to get comfortable with it.

17. Now everything is on the double-pointed needles. Your pack of dpns should either have four or five needles. You're only using three in the hat stitches. So, with the left-over double-pointed needle, begin knitting off the double-points. Basically you knit as if with straight needles, taking the stitches off a full double-point and onto an empty double-pointed needle*.

* Also, I am not explaining this very well. Sorry. It's hard. Here's a picture.


18. Keep on with the decreasing until you cannot stand it anymore. I usually decrease down until I only have about 10-12 stitches on my needles.

19. Cut your yarn, leaving about 8 inches of yarn tail for pulling the whole thing together. Thread the tail through a yarn needle and pull it through all the remaining stitches like so:


Make a knot. Weave in all ends by weaving them across the stitches on the inside part of your hat.

FINALLY.... STEP 20!! Easy Hat!! HAH HAH!! Embellish with a pom-pom if desired. Drink wine and feel happy as pie. Imagine you are a superior knitter, with superior hat-making skills. Avoid all news channels that tell you it will be one thousand degrees this weekend in the Valley, negating presence of wool hat.


Posted by laurie at June 28, 2005 6:57 AM